Club Focus – Newcastle United – Magpies look to capitalise on Blackpool’s misery

Newcastle travel to Blackpool at the weekend looking to consolidate their place in the top half of the Premier League. Confidence should be high on the back of a good performance against league leaders Manchester United. The Magpies have struggled in their past few meetings with Ian Holloway’s men losing two out of their past three games. They lost 2-0 at Bloomfield Road in the Championship last season and then lost by the same scoreline earlier on in the present campaign. However with Blackpool currently on a poor run of form and in the relegation places it is a good opportunity to get a win.

Alan Pardew can welcome his captain Kevin Nolan back after the attacking midfielder completed his two match suspension. Nolan is likely to get straight back into the team as Danny Guthrie has a foot injury that could rule him out for the rest of the season. Guthrie had one of his best games under Pardew on Tuesday night but has again suffered bad luck just when he was returning to near his best. Stephen Ireland is another option in midfield or attack after making his Toon debut in midweek.

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Goalkeeper Steve Harper will again be sidelined with a knee injury so Tim Krul will continue to deputise in his place. Harper may need to undergo surgery on his knee and a decision will be taken in the next couple of weeks. The problem may give Krul another extended run in the side as he looks to press his case for a more regular first team place. Another promising young goalkeeper Ole Soderberg will be on the bench as back-up due to Harper’s absence.

Former player Michael Owen was disappointed by the reception he received from the home fans when he made a rare Manchester United appearance on Tuesday. The 31 year old was on the receiving end of a vitriolic response from the Newcastle faithful who feel Owen never fulfilled his potential at St James’ Park. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid player wrote on his Twitter page: “Got a poor reception off the home fans which was disappointing. Was desperate to score!” He added: “Knew I would get booed as that’s what a lot of fans do but if they knew the facts then they may have a different opinion.

Newcastle splashed out £16 million for Owen back in 2005 but his four seasons on Tyneside were disrupted by injury. In total he managed just 79 appearances although he still managed a respectable 30 goals in an often struggling side. Taking his reputed £100,000 a week wages into account Owen’s move to the north east would have cost the club well over £30 million in his four years there. Even when he was made captain fans found it hard to warm to the striker who some felt put his country before his club. It was no surprise that Owen left for free when Newcastle were relegated in 2009.

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